Newsweek owner Sidney Harman dies aged 92

Audio equipment millionaire Sidney Harman, who bought Newsweek magazine last year and oversaw its merger with The Daily Beast, has aged 92.

Audio equipment millionaire Sidney Harman, who bought Newsweek magazine last year and oversaw its merger with The Daily Beast, has aged 92.

Mr Harman died last night of complications from leukaemia. He learned of his illness about a month ago.

“He died in Washington, DC, a city he loved and supported in so many ways, surrounded by his wife and children,” a family statement said.

Mr Harman is the founder of Harman International Industries, which was based in Washington for years before it was sold in 2007 for about €8bn (€5.5bn).

In the Newsweek deal, Mr Harman paid The Washington Post one dollar for the money-losing newsweekly, and the Post agreed to cover up to $10m (€6.9m) of the magazine’s debt.

Three months later, Mr Harman’s negotiations helped install veteran editor Tina Brown as Newsweek’s editor-in-chief to lead its merger with The Daily Beast. Mr Harman said the merger provided an “ideal combination of established journalism authority and bright, bristling website savvy”.

Mr Harman was a philanthropist, arts patron and familiar face in Washington’s social scene. He rarely missed the annual Kennedy Centre Honours gala. He was married to former California Representative Jane Harman, who recently left Congress to lead the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars.

In 2007, Mr Harman gave nearly $20m (€13.8m) to build a new home for Washington’s popular Shakespeare Theatre Company. The theatre, with an ultra-modern glass facade and dark mahogany auditorium, is named in his honour as the Mr Harman Centre for the Arts. At the time, Mr Harman said he was particularly proud of the central location that could draw a young, diverse audience.

“We believe it critical to encourage the creation of new expressions of all of the performing arts,” he said. If not, he said, “we’re going to go culturally bankrupt.”

Mr Harman said he made the gift because he loves the arts, not because he wanted a building named after him.

“In truth, my wife pressed for it,” he said of the arts centre that carries his name. “I think she’s thinking of it as a nice memorial.”

Mr Harman was born in Montreal in 1918 and moved with his family to New York. He made his fortune in the 1950s as an audio pioneer.

In 1977, he joined President Jimmy Carter’s administration as deputy secretary in the Commerce Department.

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